Word of mouth: Social networking and online sales success in Brazil

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The use of social networking services in Brazil is higher than in many other more developed online markets, such as Spain, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. According to our study data, eight out of ten Brazilians visited a social networking site in the past six months and some 64 percent maintain more than one profile. Perhaps it’s not surprising that, in a country where spending time with friends and family remains a centerpiece of modern life, social networking would be the number-one online activity among Brazilian iConsumers, accounting for more than one-third of the time they spend online.

As a result, social networking can be critical to a company's reputation. Local sites are becoming increasingly popular with consumers who want to provide feedback on their customer experiences with major companies and brands in Brazil.

Although Brazilian consumers behave very similarly to their counterparts in Western nations with regard to social networking, this is not yet the case with online shopping. A meager 38 percent said they made online purchases in the past three months—half the number of consumers who did so in a developed European market. With regard to mobile phone-based shopping, Brazil is even further behind—just 10 percent use a mobile phone for making purchases.

Yet according to iConsumer data, online shopping is poised to increase significantly in popularity. If purchase intention is factored into the outlook for the next six months, Brazil edges out more developed markets, which suggests that many consumers are just about to make their first online purchases.

Even if their products are still being purchased primarily offline, companies need to care about their online presence. The reason is simple—because customers care. Some 62 percent say they research products online before making purchases. For many consumers, when purchasing electronics, mobile phones, and books, the online channel is more important for information gathering than talking to friends or visiting a physical store.

The growth outlook for online shopping is strong—companies should take action now and invest in integrated social media and online strategies.

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